Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tropical!!

In honor of Tropical Storm Don bringing some relief to the parched state of Texas:

Tropical Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 1/2 heaping cups peeled, seeded ripe papaya
1 very large banana
1 1/2 heaping cups ripe cantaloupe, cut into chunks
1 (6 oz) carton coconut cream pie yogurt
1/4 cup milk

Directions:

Cut papaya into chunks.  Place all ingredients in a blend and puree until smooth.  Pour into glasses, serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Role Reversal

Hubby's been out of town this week attending training so Wednesday night, I had a girl's night.  A friend came by the house, we ordered Chinese and watched a movie.  Pretty tame night, right?  I mean...it was done and over by 10 p.m.!!

So tell me why, on Thursday, my youngest son wanted to know what I'd been doing the night before?  When I asked why, he informed me I had no business being up that late!!  10 p.m.??

So when did the roles reverse?  Last time I checked...I'm still the mom!  I realize he's grown and gone but does that mean he gets to parent me?  I'm 49...it's not like I have one foot in the grave yet!!

I have to admit, his concern is sweet.  Misplaced...but sweet.  That is one great kid!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Christmas in July

Yep...I said it...the "C" word.  Christmas.  Have you started planning yet?

I'm giving it my best effort.  But it's hard to picture Christmas presents when it's 105 degrees outside!!  I usually try to give my girlfriends handmade gifts.  Looking around my sewing room yesterday, I was completely devoid of inspiration.  I haven't the faintest idea where to begin, what to make, or even what general direction.

Last year, I made all natural sugar scrub and homemade kahlua.  My house was drunk for three days!!  This year...not a clue.  And I'm already feeling the pressure to get started, that I may not finish everything in time.  And it's still July!!

What about you?  Do you go for handmade?  Or do you buy?  Do you start now or wait until the last minute?  All suggestions are welcome...and I'm sure to steal an idea or two!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spare Me!!!

The following was posted on a friend's Facebook page...I loved it!!

Allow me to speak on behalf of the 90+% who "won't re-post this". We don't re-post it because it's generally asinine and or juvenile. I don't need to engage in "slacktivism" to prove to you or anyone else, my love of God, Country, the Military, children, animals or sick people. PLEASE, whatever you do in life, DO NOT re-post this as your status


Amen!!!  I am one of the 90+%!!  Think about these posts when you see them:


"I love my husband/son/daughter"  Really?  Do you think people don't know that?  And to be honest, if I didn't think you loved your kids...you wouldn't be my friend!!


"Against Cancer"  Huh?  So you're telling me there are actually people out there who are FOR cancer?


"Click Like if You Love Jesus"  Granted, I do not have a direct line upstairs.  But do you really believe The Big Guy checks Facebook to see if His number of "likes" has increased?


"ANY Political Re-Post"  If this is a viewpoint you share, do you not then have the passion to put it in your own words?  For that matter, did you have the foresight to even verify if it's true?


"Mis-spelled Re-Posts"  1.  The original poster did not even have the intelligence to spell their thought correctly.  2.  You re-posted it.  Enough said.


Facebook is a SOCIAL network.  I am your friend because I want to know what is going on in YOUR life...not some faceless, anonymous person 500 clicks back.  So if there is something you want to share, please do...in YOUR words!!


And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Free and Easy!!

Do you have a Twitter account?  If not, get one now!!  Tweets do not need to be sent to your phone, you can view them as a web page just like Facebook!  And now for the free and easy part:

Follow @inkmesh on Twitter.  All they tweet are free e-books!!  When you click on the link in their tweet, it takes you to their webpage.  There you will find the different formats the book is available in, which formats are free, and hyperlinks to take you directly to the seller.

Yes...I said different formats!!  While the tweet may say Kindle or Nook...when you get to InkMesh's page, the book may be available in more formats and may be free in those other formats also!

Remember...you do not have to have an e-reader to take advantage of these free books!  Most e-readers have apps that can be downloaded to your PC, phone, or laptop.  The apps themselves are also free!

Enjoy!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Going Gray

Ahhh, the gray debate!!  Probably one of the most vehement areas of contention between women empty-nesters!

Personally, I'm going gray.  Ok...maybe I need to be more honest.  Because of my coloring (born with red hair, darkened to ash blonde as I aged), I've managed to skip the gray altogether.  I do, however, have racing stripes down both sides of my head in bright, glow-in-the-dark white!  Which I shouldn't have been surprised by...it's the exact same way my father aged!

Now I've been told by numerous friends that I need to dye my hair so I look younger.  Really?  Like a simple dye job will magically make me appear less than my actual 49 years?  Or will it just make me appear like I'm desperately trying to hold on to a youth that is long gone?

Please understand, that is not a judgment of those who do feel the need to dye their hair.  It is always a personal choice.  There are also women in professions where gray hair is an unacceptable appearance for public duties.  Should it be that way?  No...but ageism is a reality in our society.  Personally, I'm both too cheap and too lazy to maintain a dye job.  It takes time, effort, and a lot of money to keep up with growing roots, damaged hair, etc.  I choose to skip it all!

Since Delilah, women's identities have been intertwined with their hair.  What do my white racing stripes say about me?  I've lived my life, I've earned every white hair...and I wouldn't change a thing!!

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Something to Beat the Heat!

Tumbleweed Pie

Ingredients:

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp kahlua
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp amaretto
1 (9 in) pre-made chocolate cookie crust
1/4 cup slivered, toasted almonds

Directions:

Add ice cream, kahlua, and amaretto to a medium mixing bowl and blend as rapidly as possible.
Pour into pie crust.  Sprinkle almonds over the top of pie and freeze.

Enjoy!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

When Being a Foodie is NOT Cool

The latest thing seems to be being a foodie.  Eating food that we had never even heard of as children.  Taking pleasure in the best restaurants and the finest wines.  As the world has grown smaller, our choices have grown larger.  And that is a good thing.

But as the foodie fad has grown, I've also noticed a backlash building.  One where people are verbally attacked for where they ate dinner or what their menu consisted of that night.  And that is decidedly NOT cool!

When someone posts that they are at McDonalds for instance...you will see replies stating "That place is disgusting!"  "How can you even eat there?!"  "Oh, gross!!" .  Ok...so you personally don't like that restaurant.  Have you stopped to think that the poster may be a single mom?  That the dollar menu may be the only way she can afford a special treat for her kids?

Or let's use the example of chain restaurants...Applebee's, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chili's, etc.  I've seen the same kind of comments.  When you make those remarks, did you know that the "2 for $20" deal may be the only way that couple can have a date night and stay on budget?  That they would love to go to a high-end restaurant...but have made the conscious choice to be content with what they can afford?  Have they actually responded in such a hateful manner to any of YOUR posts on what you like to eat?

Being kind is always attractive.  Being a snob??  Not so much.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Before You Buy

If you're like me, most of your shopping has moved online.  It's just so easy to point, click, and fill up that shopping cart!  But before you buy, make sure you check for an online coupon!  On average, if there is a coupon available for that site...you'll save an average of 10 to 15 percent!!  And that can really add up if you're doing major shopping such as Christmas or Back To School!

Some of my favorite sites are:

http://www.retailmenot.com/

http://www.couponmountain.com/

http://www.fatwallet.com/store-coupons/

http://www.couponcabin.com/

While there are many, many more sites; these are the four where I've had the best results.  When using a coupon code, be sure to pay attention to the expiration date!  Also, some coupon codes are only valid for a certain type of merchandise, so it's up to you to choose the best coupon for your particular order that day.

So now you know how to save...Get Shopping!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Slow Day

It's a slow day around the empty nest.  The heat index is supposed to hit 106 and just the thought already exhausts me!  The dogs are sound asleep and I wish I could join them!!

As I sit here looking around my office/sewing room/library/guest room/craft room, I see a lot I need to get done but today I completely lack the motivation!!  How do you motivate yourself?  And yes, I have a small house, so one room really does serve all those purposes!!

I think for today, I'll make a dent in something.  Not actually finish something...just make a dent.  I'm not going to put the pressure on myself to climb a mountain for just one day.  Today, I'm just going to take a stroll.  A lesson I learned yesterday, when I pushed myself so hard and stressed myself so much, that my body actually revolted! Yes, some days I am an idiot.

So today is just going to be a slow day.  Just a stroll instead of a marathon.  Just a dent instead of a completion.  And I'm going to take the time to enjoy my day.

And those are my random thoughts this morning....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time Alone

Later this month, my husband is scheduled to be out of town for training.  I'm looking forward to his trip and always do when he travels.  Why?  Because it's me time...just me.

For this trip, I have scheduled a pizza and movie night with a friend, but other than that night...I'm purposely leaving the calendar empty.  I look forward to not having to have dinner on the table at a specific time.  I relish the thought of sole control of the remote!  I get to indulge myself with the foods Hubby hates without guilt!  Heck, I don't even have to share the attention from the dogs!

At the same time, I'm glad the trip is only a few days.  While the time alone is precious, I'm always ecstatic when he gets back home.  There is truth to the old saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder".  Of course, as soon as he gets home, our calendar is packed once again.  

So we'll both enjoy our little escape from the day to day routine.  And that's the way it should be!

 

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Last Time

Saturday, I had lunch with a couple of girlfriends.  For one, it was a retirement lunch from the job where we first met each other a couple of decades ago.

Part of the reason for her reluctant retirement is her health.  She's been told she will be on dialysis by the end of the year.  As a widow, her children don't want her living alone once that process begins.  So she's moving, leaving town to join her daughter's household.

And with those health problems comes the realization that Saturday's lunch may well have been the last time I would be with my friend.  And as that thought sinks in, my mind is whirling with questions.

Did I let her know how much I cared about her?  Did I hug her hard enough when we parted?  We were at the restaurant for two and a half hours.  Does she realize it's because we wanted to be with her?  Does she know I love her?

We will be keeping in touch via email once she moves.  And I will use those emails as opportunities to make sure she knows.

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cool and Easy!!

Blueberry Fluff

Ingredients:

1 (20 oz) can blueberry pie filling
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 ( 8 oz) carton whipped topping
Optional:  3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Instructions:

Mix pie filling, pineapple, and condensed milk.  Fold in whipped topping.  Add nuts if desired.  Pour into parfait glasses and chill.

Enjoy!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Just Two Hours

Last night I went out to dinner with a friend.  All told, from beginning to end, we only spent two hours together.  But we made each of those 120 minutes count!!

With busy lives and electronic communication, we forget sometimes how important actual face to face time is.  We spent those two hours talking ninety to nothing...so much so that our waitress was concerned that we didn't like our food!  Every time she walked by, we were yakking instead of eating!

Girlfriends are important.  They hold you up when you're on your way down.  They call you on your crap but love you anyways.  They let you vent without trying to fix it.  And as empty-nesters, they are a vital part of our social network.

So today, right now...call one of your girlfriends.  Men, call a guy friend.  Make a date to meet for lunch, dinner, or just a drink.  Spend some time with someone you care about.  Guaranteed, there is a whole lot more going on in their world than gets posted on their Facebook wall or Tweeted.

P.S.  To my friend from last night:  When I call you out, looking at me and saying "You're so pretty" doesn't cut it!  Busted is busted!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prayers for Danny

You may remember seeing this blog post back in May:

Thirty years ago, Patti and I were stationed together on the island of Crete and have been friends ever since.  Today, Patti is packing for the Marines to fly her to Hawaii to be at her son's bedside.  Danny was medevac'd from Okinawa to Hawaii yesterday.  He is suffering from aplastic anemia and is considered acute enough that the Marine Corp is flying his wife from Japan and his mother from Florida to be at his bedside.  Danny is a proud Marine serving his country and the brand new father of a five week old daughter.


Here is an update.  Danny has received a bone marrow transplant and is recovering in a hospital in Florida.  He is currently running a high fever that doctors are trying to break.  A Facebook page has been set up so that people can send their prayers and get well wishes for this brave Marine.  The page can be found here:


http://www.facebook.com/pages/Prayers-for-Danny/186130084781445

Danny will be viewing this page and Patti (his mother) will be posting updates.  Thank you.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Frugal Eating

I have found the coolest menu website!!  It's called ReadySetEat.com and it is not your usual recipe website!

Oh, it has recipes.  And a recipe box to save them in, etc.  But this site has an added feature that is just incredible!!

When you first go to the site, you will need to register.  They'll ask for your location and the three grocery stores you shop at the most.  Why?  Because those grocery stores are the key to eating frugal!!

After registering...browse the recipes.  When you pull up one you're interested in...you don't just get the recipe.  You also get which items are on sale at YOUR grocery store and which items have coupons available to save you even more!!

So now you can plan your week's menu taking advantage of recipes for your specific taste or dietary needs, you'll know where items are on sale, and what coupons apply.  Great food with great savings!!

Here's the link, so plan away!!
www.readyseteat.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Self-Promotion and Blogging

I've been working on this blog since March.  Not a long time in blogging world, but long enough for me to identify my biggest challenge:  self-promotion.

As an empty-nester, I grew up in the generation where children were to be seen and not heard.  Little girls were taught to be "nice".  When assertiveness and self-promotion were looked upon as faults...something to be remedied.  It is amazing how deeply ingrained these lessons are, even as I approach 50.

To give you an example, when my youngest son was born, I was scheduled for a tubal ligation immediately following delivery.  When he finally arrived, the doctor prepared to begin my surgery.  But by then the epidural was fading.  So as he began the surgery, I could feel it!  And how did I let him know?  I said "Excuse me?".  Yep...that's right.  Someone is cutting into my body with a scalpel and I said excuse me.  Not just once...but two or three times before I got someone's attention.

So now we come to my blog.  I work really hard on my blog and I believe I do a really good job.  So why is it so hard to promote?  Because it feels like "Look at me!  Ain't I great?"  and for women of my generation...that is an uncomfortable feeling.  We were taught that bragging was inappropriate and "look at me" was unseemly.  But to promote this blog, self-promotion is required.  My blog is my thoughts, my ideas, and my life.  So yes, it's "Look at me!!"

So this is my challenge as a woman, an empty-nester, and a blogger.  The best part is knowing you are still a work in progress even at this stage of life.  And that this old dog can still learn some new tricks.

So, hey!!!!  Check out my blog!!  It's great!!!  Join me for the journey!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

In Praise of Quiet Weekends

I love a quiet weekend.  While Hubby had to work Saturday, I caught up on chores and TV shows I had missed.  Saturday night, we spent a quiet evening watching TV and reading.

Sunday, after a few errands were completed...we settled in for the day.  Steaks on the grill for dinner, Hubby watching TV and me enthralled by the latest from one of my favorite authors.  Not a lot of conversation, but that comfortable silence between two people that actually takes years to achieve.

And that's one of the advantages to an empty nest...no phones ringing, no doors slamming, no stereos blaring.  Just contentment and enjoyment of our time together.  It's an absolute blessing.

And those are my random thoughts today...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Too Hot to Bake!

No Cook Lemon Balls

Ingredients:

2 cups pecan shortbread cookie crumbs, divided
1 (6 oz) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 (16 oz) box powdered sugar, sifted

Directions:

Combine 1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs, lemonade concentrate, butter and powdered sugar.  Shape into small balls.  Roll in reserved cookie crumbs and place on wax paper.  Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours in sealed container or freeze to serve later.

Enjoy!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Sense of Wonder

I've been seeing postings and news blurbs all morning about the final launch of the space shuttle.  I'll be watching.  I clearly remember my dad waking us up at 4 a.m. to watch the Apollo missions take off.  Yes, I'm that old.  My dad had an air of excitement and joy about each launch and I'm happy that I've inherited that from him.

As a nation, we seem to have become blase about these events.  They're still incredible feats of engineering and bravery.  Yes, bravery.  These men and women are strapping themselves onto a rocket!!!  And outer space?  Truly the final frontier!

On the 4th of July, all fireworks were cancelled here in Austin due to the drought.  In their place, Hubby and I raced outside at precisely 9:08 p.m. and watched the space station cross the sky.  It only took about 90 seconds (that thing hauls butt!) but it was an amazing sight to see!

So hang on to your sense of wonder!  I've been called innocent and naive for my enjoyment in different experiences.  That's okay with me!  I would much prefer that to potentially missing out on something wonderful!  And yes, my grown children roll their eyes sometimes when I drag them to something new I've found.  That's okay, too!  At some point, these will be their memories.

In the words of Aerosmith...."I don't want to miss a thing."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A New Adventure

Today I attended the Davis Cup Draw Ceremony.  It was held by ACL Live at the Moody Theater in downtown Austin.  What a great event!!

This was a new experience for me as I had never attended a professional tennis event, live match or not.  The ceremony was opened by Asleep at the Wheel and they rocked the house!!  The staff at ACL Live were, as always, professional and friendly.  It is a great venue with an outstanding staff!!

And it was a true thrill to see the stars of the United States and Spanish tennis teams, especially hometown boy Andy Roddick!!  Davis Cup weekend in Austin is sure to be a great event!!

I must say, one of the greatest pleasures of being an empty-nester is the new adventures and experiences I have!  It keeps me looking forward to each new day with joy and anticipation.  And what is better than that??

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cotton Candy Friends

Picture eating cotton candy.  You know how when you put a piece in your mouth, it just dissolves away on your tongue?  Now compare that to your friends.  Are there those that when you are in need, they just seem to dissolve away?  If you're like me you probably have some and you also have a core group of friends that you know will be there no matter what.

So how do you deal with cotton candy friends?  It's pretty much a matter of choice.  I personally chose to accept them for what they are...what our grandparents called "fair weather" friends.  I realize that that is the extent of their friendship and I know not to expect any better from them.  Others may chose to eliminate those people from their lives.  Both are valid choices, just a matter of your own expectations.

Now think on your own interactions.  Are you a cotton candy friend?  Are you there when someone needs a shoulder to lean on?  When they want to talk, do you lend an ear?  I try very hard to be a good friend and admittedly, sometimes it stretches me pretty thin.  But in this phase of my life, I have learned the value of friends and work at being a good one.  My hope and wish is that my friends would say the same.

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review--Organized in 20 Days

You know it's not an auspicious beginning when your husband sees the title and bursts out laughing!!!

Organized in 20 days...boy, do I need this book!  And let me start by saying that although this book comes in e-format, you will definitely want to print some of the worksheets it contains.  While instructions are given on how to complete certain tasks electronically; I found it helpful to experiment with pen and pencil first.

Organized in 20 Days doesn't just deal with the knick knacks you have lying around the house.  It covers everything from food to finance. Tasks are broken down to achievable steps and are clearly written.  And for us empty-nesters?  Wherever the book says kids' room...substitute office or sewing room.  Where it says toys...well, aren't our hobbies pretty much our toys?  Now I know some of my empty-nesters may substitute "Husband" for "Kid" but you're on your own there!!

Organized in 20 Days was a well written book, clearly done by "An Organized Mom" who has walked the walk!  I would definitely recommend for any mom, particularly those with small children.  (I do remember what it was like!!)

To find more information on How To Organize, please visit:  www.organizemom.net .  You can also check it out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theorganizedmom?sk=wall .






Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed are strictly my own and are not influenced by such receipt.

Monday, July 4, 2011

On This Independence Day

On this Independence Day, I would like to extend my heartfelt love and appreciation to my fellow veterans and my friends and family still on active duty.


The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it. The American flag flies from the last breath of each military member who has died protecting it. American soldiers don't fight because they hate what's in front of them...they fight because they love what's behind them.


To all those who have served and those still serving...you are my heroes.  Thank you.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Red, White, and Blue Delight

For your 4th of July weekend!!


Ingredients
  • FOR THE BLUEBERRY SAUCE:
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • FOR THE DESSERT:
  • 1 pint strawberry sorbet
  • 1 container (1 1/2 quarts) vanilla ice cream
  • Fresh blueberries and strawberries for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the blueberries and the water in a medium-size saucepan. Partially cover the pan, then bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering the berries until they begin to break down, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar and cook the berries until they become soft, about 1 to 2 minutes more.
  2. Stir together the lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl until evenly blended. Stir the mixture into the berries, then cook them at a low boil, stirring constantly, for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and transfer it to a medium-size bowl. When the sauce is cooled, cover it and place it in the refrigerator to chill.
  3. Line a 9- by 5-inch metal loaf pan with two sheets of crisscrossed plastic wrap, leaving a 3-inch overhang on all sides, then chill the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  4. Place the container of sorbet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to soften, then spoon the sorbet into the pan and mold it, using a sheet of plastic wrap to smooth the top as needed. Cover it with foil and freeze it for 2 hours. The last 30 minutes, soften the vanilla ice cream in the refrigerator. Remove the pan from the freezer, add half the vanilla ice cream, mold it, cover it with foil, and freeze it and the remaining ice cream for 30 minutes. For the third layer, mix the remaining ice cream with 3/4 cup of the blueberry sauce, and add it to the pan. Freeze the dessert for one more hour.
  5. Chill a platter in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Right before serving, thin the remaining blueberry sauce with a spoonful of water or orange juice. Invert the dessert onto the platter, unwrap it, and garnish it with fresh berries. Use a sharp knife to slice the dessert, and serve it with the sauce. 

    Enjoy!!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Free Kindle Books

If you have a Kindle or if you have the Kindle app downloaded onto your PC, iPad, phone, etc., here is a great link to download free books!  And as we know...free is always the best!!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/154606011#1

Once you click on the link....look at the column on the right.  These are the top 100 FREE books!  Make sure you stick to the column on the right...the left-hand column is the top selling books on Kindle...not free!!

So in advance of the long weekend, download to your heart's content and you'll have plenty to read when you're at the park or the beach!!

Whether Canada Day or Independence Day...I hope you have a safe and happy holiday weekend!!

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